The way I see it, micro-apps are the future of the web application. These tiny apps only do one thing in particular - but they do it well. As opposed to more robust applications, micro-apps focus on a single task and target that problem with a specialized solution.
The most obvious example of this type of application is Twitter. This micro-app vaulted to the top ranks of the Internet in less than a year. The idea itself is extremely basic. The design, experience, and functionality are also quite simple. In fact, I would wager that any major technology company could replicate such an app with a reasonably-sized development group in less than a month.
So how come Twitter continues to thrive as the industry leader? First-mover advantage does account for some success, but only to a certain point. Once again, the idea can easily be copied. The secret formula lies in the name, reputation, and large user base, all used as protection against the competition.
Yet again, it must be stated that a micro-app isn’t overly complicated. Truly, it should appear ridiculously simple at first glance, but surprisingly remarkable upon further inspection. Complete focus on a single feature maintains focus and clarity, providing a utility that can’t often be matched by a more sophisticated offering.
Many times, these applications can be built in a month, week, or even a day. The magic lies in the simplicity. Therefore, a shorter time-line demands narrower vision.
Some use APIs, open source code, or RSS, while others may use a combination of elements to create a mash-up. In the end, simplicity will affirm feature purity, ultimately leading to product success and user adoption.